Montverde Boys and Girls Basketball Teams to Play in GEICO National Championships
MONTVERDE – Like so many basketball teams across the country, Montverde Academy will dance.
The Eagles boys’ and girls’ teams learned on Tuesday that they had been invited to play in the annual GEICO High School Nationals later this month at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.
Montverde’s men’s team – the defending champions – will be making their 10th appearance in the tournament, while the girls will be making their first. The tournament will take place from March 31 to April 2. All matches will be televised on the various ESPN platforms – ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN+.
Montverde boys play for sixth GEICO title
Montverde’s men’s team, which is 21-4, will be in contention for its sixth GEICO championship and its legendary national title. Previously, the Eagles won in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 as well as last year and were runners-up in 2010, 2012 and 2017.
The Eagles’ home opener is at 2 p.m. on March 31 against AZ Compass Prep of Chandler, Arizona. This match will be televised on ESPNU.
The Montverde women’s team — 18-3 on the season — will debut at 10:30 a.m. on April 1 against Daytona Beach DME Academy. It will air on ESPNU.
In all, 13 teams make up the boys’ and girls’ fields, and all are ranked in ESPN’s SC Next Top 25.
Among the men’s teams are four of the top five in the SC Next Top 25 – No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas), No. 3 IMG Academy (Florida), No. 4 Montverde Academy and No. 5 Link Academy (Missouri). Other teams in the boys include No. 6 La Lumière (Indiana), No. 7 Oak Hill (Virginia), No. 9 AZ Compass Prep and No. 19 Prolific Prep (California).
The girls’ field consists of: No. 9 New Hope Academy (Maryland), No. 10 DME Academy, No. 11 Montverde Academy, No. 22 IMG Academy, and No. 24 Bishop McNamara High School (Maryland).
“This year’s field at the GEICO Nationals will be the strongest to compete for a title,” said Paul Biancardi, ESPN basketball analyst and national recruiting director. “When you look at the program selection from top to bottom, there is little separation. All teams are nationally ranked and have challenged each other throughout the season. Talent-wise, the tournament has elite star power, with dozens of ranked prospects, including 15 McDonald’s All-Americans.
“This is the highest number of participations in a GEICO championship.”
Naismith Player of the Year Dariq Whitehead, Eagles’ latest star
Several NBA stars played for legendary coach Kevin Boyle at Montverde Academy, including Philadelphia 76ers MVP contender Joel Embiid, as well as RJ Barrett (New York Knicks) and Ben Simmons (Brooklyn Nets). Another who played for Boyle and rose to the next levels is Cade Cunningham, who played at Oklahoma State before being selected by Detroit in the NBA draft last year.
This year’s team is led by Dariq Whitehead, Naismith National High School Player of the Year.
The strength of the field shows with the participants’ combined winning and losing records. The eight men’s teams combined for a record of 202-31, while the combined record of the five women’s teams is 101-17.
Eight of the previous 13 men’s championships have been won by teams in the field this year, including Montverde Academy (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2021), Oak Hill Academy (2016), La Lumière (2017) and IMG Academy ( 2018). The only previous champion in the women’s field this year is New Hope Academy, who won the 2019 title.
The tournament began in 2009 in Bethesda, Maryland as the National High School Invitational – a platform for nationally ranked high school teams to compete in a season-ending tournament. He moved to New York in 2014 and remained there until last year when he was transferred to Fort Myers.